How to Reduce Your Number of Blocked Web Marketing E-Mails - dummies

How to Reduce Your Number of Blocked Web Marketing E-Mails

By John Arnold, Michael Becker, Marty Dickinson, Ian Lurie, Elizabeth Marsten

Blocked web marketing e-mails are sometimes temporary and sometimes permanent, depending on whether the server or software blocking the e-mail does so in response to the content of a single e-mail or the characteristics of a specific type of e-mail. Here is how you can keep from being blocked by someone on your e-mail list.

Respond to a challenge response system

A challenge response system is a software program that returns all unrecognized e-mail to the sender with instructions for getting the e-mail delivered that only a live person is capable of following, to verify that the sender is a real human being — not a computer generating e-mail addresses.

[Credit: Courtesy of SpamArrest]
Credit: Courtesy of SpamArrest

Challenge responses are generated by third-party applications that integrate into e-mail applications. For example, someone who wants to eliminate computer-generated spam might purchase a challenge response application to verify all e-mails sent to his AOL e-mail address. If you send e-mail to someone with a challenge response system, the returned e-mail might ask you to click a link and enter specific characters in a form field or reply to the e-mail with a specific subject line.

Following the instructions in the returned e-mail adds your server address or e-mail address to the subscriber’s friends list or address book so that future e-mails are delivered without a challenge. Spam-blocking technology is getting better all the time, so you probably won’t run into challenge responses too much.

Keep your e-mail address or server off a block list

A block list (also known as a blacklist) is a database that contains the domain names and server addresses of suspected spammers. Block lists are maintained by Internet service providers (ISPs) and other companies that monitor spam complaints across the Internet. Server addresses and domain names are added to block lists based on the number of spam complaints logged by consumers.

If you send an e-mail that gets too many spam complaints, the server you use to send your e-mail might be added to one or more block lists. To keep your server off of block lists, keep the number of spam complaints you receive under 1 in 1,000 e-mails and use a reputable E-Mail Marketing Provider.

Avoid spam trap e-mail addresses

A spam trap is a false e-mail address placed on the Internet by a company with an interest in reducing spam.

When spammers using web crawlers to capture e-mail addresses try to send an e-mail to the spam trap e-mail address, the sender’s domain and server address are automatically added to the block list. (A web crawler is a computer program that searches the Internet for specific types of content, such as lines of text that look like an e-mail address.)

Many companies share their spam trap block lists. If you happen to send e-mail to a spam trap address, your deliverability could be doomed.

Here are some ways to avoid spam trap e-mail addresses:

  • Don’t surf the Internet to obtain e-mail addresses. Besides risking your deliverability, this behavior is also illegal.

  • Don’t send e-mail to a purchased list. Purchased lists are often collected without permission and can contain spam trap addresses.

  • Send a welcome e-mail to every new list subscriber and immediately remove e-mail addresses that return your welcome e-mail. That way, you can weed out anyone who tries to maliciously join your e-mail list by using a known spam trap address.

Get past e-mail firewalls

An e-mail firewall is a piece of hardware or a software application programmed to identify and block e-mails that appear untrustworthy. Firewalls can be customized and configured to block almost any e-mail element.

For example, a system administrator at one company might configure a firewall to block e-mails with certain types of content, and another system administrator might configure a firewall to block e-mails from certain senders while ignoring the content altogether.

Because firewalls have so many variables, telling whether your e-mail is being blocked by a firewall is usually impossible. If you use an EMP that provides blocked e-mail addresses in its bounced report, however, you can at least find out which e-mail addresses are being blocked and then take action to try to get the e-mail delivered.

Changing your tactics to get e-mail delivered to a blocked address is difficult, but the following remedies might prove effective:

  • Ask your audience to add your e-mail address to their address book or contacts list when they sign up for your e-mail list. Some content-blocking systems allow e-mail to go through if the sender’s e-mail address is in the recipient’s address book.

    In your welcome letter and subscription reminders, give your audience instructions for adding your e-mail address. This e-mail asks the reader to help ensure delivery by adding the sender’s e-mail address to the reader’s address book.

    [Credit: Courtesy of Anderson-Shea, Inc.]
    Credit: Courtesy of Anderson-Shea, Inc.
  • Obtain an alternative e-mail address from each of your blocked subscribers. Sometimes, half the battle with blocked e-mail is knowing that a particular e-mail address is being blocked. When your EMP’s bounce report shows a particular blocked e-mail address, you can ask your subscriber to provide a different address.

  • If the blocked e-mail address is a work address, ask the IT expert at your subscriber’s company to add your EMP’s e-mail server address to the friends list on the company’s e-mail server. A friends list (also known as a white list) is a database containing e-mail addresses from welcome senders. Some firewalls ignore their blocking instructions when the sender’s e-mail address exists in the friends list.